Pandemic Pushes OLED Tablet Popularity, Jump in Penetration Expected in 2024

  • Samsung started making OLED tablets as early as 2014, but most of its competitors remained unconvinced about using OLED.
  • COVID-19 led to tablet displays coming under focus, bringing back OLEDs in contention.
  • Falling manufacturing costs and the introduction of new technologies are set to make OLEDs an attractive option.
  • Many OEMs have started using OLED display panels in their newest high-end devices.
  • Significant developments in OLED penetration will have to wait till 2024 when tandem OLEDs’ mass production is expected to start.

Unlike the mass adoption of OLED panels that has happened in other devices, the use of OLED in tablets has only been pursued by a handful of OEMs so far. Samsung, one of the earliest adopters of OLED in tablets, started in 2014 but the shift proved ineffective in convincing its competitors to adopt the same. However, with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and its role in increasing the importance of multimedia, tablet displays have progressively gained prominence. The market, which still predominantly consists of LCD panels, is starting to show all the necessary prerequisites for the expanded adoption of OLED in the tablet industry.

Prominent 2022 OLED Tablet Launches

Source: Samsung, Asus, Huawei, Lenovo

The biggest technological difference between OLED and LCD displays relates to how the pixels are illuminated. LCDs rely on an LED backlight for illumination while OLEDs provide individual pixel illumination to offer better color contrasts and viewing angles. These advantages, however, do not come without their costs. Two distinct factors have hindered OLED adoption in the past. First, and most important, is the large cost disparity between OLED and LCD panels. OLED panels are considerably more difficult to produce and are yet to reach the manufacturing scale of LCDs, leading to a higher cost per unit. Second is the reliability of OLEDs, as burn-in and pixel wear are more prevalent compared to LCDs, making them less suitable for the longer lifespan of tablets. These two issues, however, are likely to be resolved in the near future with falling manufacturing costs and the introduction of new technologies, like the two-stack tandem OLED structure which provides 4x durability and 2x brightness when compared to existing OLED displays. Leading display manufacturers have already started increasing their OLED production capacities. LG Display is doubling its output by increasing the capacities at the Paju and Guangzhou plants. This will ultimately lead to a reduction in the per-unit cost of OLED panels.

Global Tablet Market Share by Display Type

Source: Counterpoint Global Tablet Market Tracker


Global Tablet OLED Market Share by Brand

Source: Counterpoint Global Tablet Market Tracker

Tablets with OLED displays consisted of around 8% of the global tablet market’s shipments in Q3 2022 and are likely to grow incrementally with every quarter, reaching an estimated 15% in Q2 2024. Although OLED adoption rates showed only modest growth in the previous year, OEMs have started using OLED display panels in their newest high-end devices. Due to the gradual diversification of model lineups, market leader Samsung dropped by 11% points YoY in Q3 2022, while Lenovo and Huawei gained 8% and 3% points respectively. OEMs like Lenovo are expected to further increase their OLED tablet market share with newer models slated to release in mid-2023.

Despite the increasing OLED tablet launches from leading OEMs, significant developments in OLED penetration will likely remain dormant in 2023 due to the likelihood of OLED displays remaining costly. Mass production of tandem OLEDs is slated to begin in 2024 with LG Display expected to start production as early as Q1 2024. Apple, the market mover in the tablet industry, is also predicted to announce OLED iPads in a similar time frame and expected to take a considerable market share of 21% in Q2 2024. With Apple’s adoption of OLED tablets, other OEMs will likely follow suit, accelerating the shift to OLED displays as the new tablet standard.